By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Dale Tallon is back in his old job, and the Florida Panthers hope that’s the first step toward getting back to the playoffs.
The Panthers reinstated Tallon as general manager on Monday, while removing Tom Rowe from both that position and his role as interim coach one day after Florida’s season ended well short of a postseason berth.
Tallon was Florida’s general manager for six years before Rowe got the title last May. Tallon is also retaining the role as the Panthers’ president of hockey operations.
“We have the talent to get back on track in a hurry,” Tallon said. “This was a difficult year for us, but I think we learned some tough lessons about what it takes to win consistently in the NHL. With a few tweaks to our roster and the right leadership, I’m confident we can get back to contending for the Stanley Cup next season.”
Rowe will remain with the organization as a special adviser to Tallon. Panthers owner Vincent Viola made clear that Tallon will have the final say on major matters.
“I am confident that we have the necessary talent throughout our organization to win the Stanley Cup,” Viola said.
That was the clear goal this season, and Florida fell way short. Florida finished with the 22nd-best record in the 30-team NHL, missing the Eastern Conference playoffs by 14 points in a season doomed by injuries and struggles.
Rowe said last week he knew he would take the blame, and he was right.
“We’ve got great fans. We’re going to be back next year,” Rowe said after Florida’s season-ending win in Washington on Sunday. “That’s all I want to tell them is, ‘Hey, hang in there.’ . We’re definitely going to be back. We have a lot of great pieces.”
The moves were announced Monday, though they were decided long before.
The Panthers went 24-26-10 under Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant in November after Florida started 11-10-1. Florida has always had a revolving door of sorts on the coach’s office, and the next hire — unless it’s a face from the past — will be the franchise’s 15th in 23 years.
Tallon’s search for a coach is already underway, the Panthers said.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Washington contributed to this story.
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